The Incredible Story Of Indian-Born Former Car Salesman, Who Was Inducted In NBA’s Hall Of Fame
The Incredible Story Of Indian-Born Former Car Salesman, Who Was Inducted In NBA’s Hall Of Fame

Despite the grim impact of the pandemic globally, sport has continued to spark tiny joys in our daily lives. Another such anecdote from the sporting universe is doing the rounds on the internet. It’s about the journey of basketball superfan Nav Bhatia, who was recently inducted the NBA Hall of Fame along with the likes […]

Despite the grim impact of the pandemic globally, sport has continued to spark tiny joys in our daily lives. Another such anecdote from the sporting universe is doing the rounds on the internet. It’s about the journey of basketball superfan Nav Bhatia, who was recently inducted the NBA Hall of Fame along with the likes of Kobe Bryant, beginning from when he fled India in 1984.

 

The anti-Sikh riots, in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, forced Bhatia to escape to Canada in the mid-80s. But despite having a degree in mechanical engineering, he ‘struggled to find work because of his long beard and turban.’

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Bhatia ditched his pride for purpose, and accepted a role as a car salesman, for which he was clearly overqualified. But he was intent on proving the fruits of hard work, and soon he became a star employee. He sold a ‘record’ 127 cars in the first 90 days, which helped him progress as a General Manager of a larger ‘car dealership across town.’

 

Hateful subordinates didn’t accept Bhatia as their leader, but he thrived in this challenge via a new staff. He transformed the business within a few years and was able to takeover both the dealerships he had worked at. He became a ‘self-made millionaire’ in a heart-warming rags-to-riches tale.

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This financial stability facilitated the pursuit of his other passion — basketball. He became one of the first season ticket holders after the Toronto Raptors became part of the NBA through its expansion in 1995.

 

Being in the audience without fail, Bhatia soon earned a reputation as the ‘loudest guy in the arena.’ He was recognised as a ‘superfan’ by the team’s GM Isiah Thomas, after several seasons of supporting the Raptors, who weren’t doing particularly well on the court. In a game during the 1998 season, he called Bhatia to the centre court and bestowed upon him this new official title.

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It’s been over 25 years since, but Bhatia remains to be an ever-present figure in attendance for the Raprtors. He hasn’t missed a single home game despite ‘13 losing seasons, multiple blizzards and even blackouts.’ His team finally won their first-ever NBA title in 2018, and Bhatia became the first ever superfan to receive an official championship ring for his unwavering loyalty.

 

Bhatia was recently inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame, setting an inspirational example through his loyalty and hard work. “I made a promise as a kid to my mom I would never remove my turban. Today it is in the Hall of Fame. Embrace what makes you different. It is your superpower. This is the crown I wear each day. Thank you, mom,” he had said during the induction.

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The superfan ‘spends $300k annually to send thousands of kids to Raptors games’. He ensures that people from different backgrounds — black, white, brown, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim — sit next to each other, in order to promote diversity and bring communities closer to each other.

 

Isn’t this what sport is all about, at the end of the day? Winning inside the stadiums and outside it, too.

Images: Twitter/JoePompliano, Superfan_Nav

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